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BP Discussing a Backup Strategy to Plug Well

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Since shortly after oil began spewing into the Gulf of Mexico two months ago, relief wells have been discussed as the ultimate solution, their success in permanently plugging the runaway well deemed a foregone conclusion.

But BP and government officials are now talking about a long-term containment plan to pump the oil to an existing platform should the relief well effort fail. While such a failure is considered highly unlikely, the contingency plan is the latest sign that with this most vexing of engineering challenges--snuffing a gusher 5,000 feet down in the gulf--nothing is a sure thing.

Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president in charge of subsea containment and capping efforts, said Monday that the first relief well was "progressing very well" and on target to intercept the runaway well more than three miles below the surface of the gulf.

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